Glass Discussion & Research. NO IDENTIFICATION REQUESTS here please. > Far East (excluding China)

Research into Japanese pressed glass industry, c.1870-1900

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David E:
A rather long post, but concerns possible similarities between British and Japanese pressed glass, c.1880-1900.

I was fortunate to meet up recently with a Japanese lady, Akiko Inoue Osumi, a lecturer at Tokai University, who has been researching the British influence on the Japanese sheet glass industry in Shinagawa (c.1870-1880). It is quite possible that Chance or Pilkington got involved, hence my own interest. Although at least five skilled British men went over there, the involvement of either company has still to be proven, but some influence is suspected.
Also at this meeting in Cambridge was Sally Haden, whose gt.grandfather (James Speed) was one the five men known to have helped developing the sheet glass works. However, after a few years, the attempt to produce sheet glass was abandoned (c.1880), but the exact reason for this decision has still to be determined. It would appear that production then reverted to art glass: Akiko has some superb photos of blown brush holders with included coloured spirals - a possible Nailsea influence*? - and pressed glass.

*with Akiko's permission I will post these photos - they are very attractive.
Akiko was in England for two weeks to research at Jardine Mattheson, in Cambridge, which is a company that was involved in the export of materials to Japan, and provided us with an opportunity to all meet up.
It was a very productive meeting - but the reason for this topic concerns a fragment of pressed glass (the photo of a complete plate is attached), which was discovered on the site of the old Shinagawa works. It
is 14.7cm diameter, so virtually 6in.
I am curious (and the nub of this post, finally): is it possible that English moulds were made and exported to Japan to create these plates? To my untrained eye, it appears there are certain similarities to Sowerby. And being that making the cast-iron moulds is such a skilled job, this might have been the pertinent action to take, perhaps? I'm also not sure how advanced the cast-iron industry was in Japan at this time.

Following a private mail to Glen, her observations are as follows:

--- Quote ---Steve and I don't have enough information to say yes or no - but I can't see that it would have been ruled out. Do you recall the Davidson look-alike piece with old Chinese writing that my Australian friend discovered?
Could have been a copy, or it could have been a mould made (in England??) for the Chinese market.
The open edge pattern on the plate you showed me is similar to Sowerby's Wickerwork. It's also similar to a pattern made by Greener/Jobling and one made by Brockwitz in Germany (possibly other makers too). All were pressed glass and all had an open edge design.
We know that Brockwitz had a huge mould shop and sold moulds to other glass makers (Eda Glasbruk in Sweden for example). Talking of Eda, they also made a Wickerwork plate identical to Sowerby's, except theirs has the moulded Eda trademark on the base.
In summary, we can't answer your question with certainty; however it seems perfectly possible that moulds could have been made in Europe and exported to Japan.
Please do put your question on the GMB. Adam Dodds may be able to help with the Sowerby link.
--- End quote ---

I have e-mailed Adam to alert him to this post.

Lastly, Akiko showed me some absolutely stunning 'cut-glass' ruby-flashed, intaglio examples of Japanese glass. Despite appearing to have traditional cuts, these were not produced by the traditional method (such as copper wheels, to the Western world), but hand-engraved. I hope Akiko can either join GMB and show us these photos, or allow me to post them — they are truly stunning  8)

All photos are © Akiko Inoue Osumi

David E:
Last photo. All photos are © Akiko Inoue Osumi

Cathy B:
That piece is extraordinarily beautiful. Thanks very much to Akiko for letting you show it.

I came across the website of the Japanese Uranium Glass Collectors Club recently. They seem a little bit lost in terms of identification (if the website is anything to go by), and seem to collect mainly foreign glass, but you may find someone there willing and able to collaborate?

David E:
It may be worth encouraging the Japanese uranium glass collectors to join GMB, although this example is very early and may not be within their collecting sphere.

Not sure how GMB copes with Japanese pictograms though! 8)

That's a great pattern!  So much depth and dimension to it.  What a fascinating research topic!  I would love to see the engraved pieces you mention.  Do you mean they used chisel-like tools?  Sometime tools like that were used in the West as well for fine work that couldn't be done with a wheel.

I can't imagine Japan didn't have the capability to produce their own molds, but that doesn't mean they didn't import them.


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